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How do you build a better meeting?

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Do you spend much of your workday dashing from one pointless meeting to the next?

If left unchecked, the time spent on meetings can quickly swell, filling your entire day.

In fact, according to software company Atlassian, U.S. businesses waste $37 billion a year on meetings.

Here are four more signs you’re in a bad meeting, from Joel D. Levitt, management consultant and author of 10 Minutes a Week to Great Meetings:

There’s no closure. Sometimes meeting attendees will discuss or debate an issue without ever coming to a decision. Without a unified collective will, decisions remain unmade. A productive meeting requires a decision (or at least an agreement to defer a decision to a subsequent meeting). Strive for consensus. Everyone must agree on a course of action or else those who disagree may undermine progress.

Your meeting is dominated by a few. If one or two attendees tend to dominate the meeting while others barely participate, you might benefit from a meeting facilitator, who can increase meeting productivity by up to 25 percent. If hiring a professional is out of the question, make sure the meeting leader has the skills to encourage balanced participation.

Attendees miss your meeting. Sometimes attendees are late to the meeting or leave before it’s over. Either way, timeliness is essential to meeting productivity. The integrity of your team is threatened when one or more members are missing. If members miss important communications, they’ll need to be brought up to speed, which takes time. Broadcast your expectation that everyone arrive on time and stay for the duration.

Attendees leave feeling drained. Does your meeting include soft drinks and donuts, which can lead to a crash in blood sugar? Are your meetings overlong? Do they lack breaks? Consider the best time of day to hold your meeting, so that attendees are fresh and alert. 

If meetings are an essential part of your day, do what you can to make them as productive as possible. There’s a science to good meetings. Try these tips to arrive at the formula that works best for you. 

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